Activity 14 – a mooch around two MOOCs

As I wanted a leisurely mooch around the MOOCS I have written short blog posts on two courses, before moving to the questions posed by this activity.

DS106 is a fizzing, frenzy of Digital Storytelling, CS253 is a much more earnest course on Web Development.



For both of these courses you need a PC, an internet connection and confidence to install and work with new applications.  To get the most out of DS106 students need a blog and accounts with social media tools (Twitter, YouTube, Flickr etc).


CS253 sits behind Udacity’s standard platform with very simple navigation.  You need to register and enrol to take the course.  Assignments are cleverly written so that they can be computer marked.

The DS106 doesn’t have a platform, but has an open website as starting point for creative adventures. DS106 runs as a course at fixed times of the year for students on a number of campuses, but also attracts a huge number of open students.  Open students can start at any time, but they are encouraged to “follow along” with a class.


DS106 is constructivist/connectivist in nature. It’s all about participating and growing, the #dailycreate sets short challenges which make the end of the course extremely fuzzy.  This is a fully blown c-MOOC which uses community to maximise creativity.

In comparison CS253 takes a paced, structured, scaffolded approach, offering students opportunities to test knowledge via quizzes and activities before moving on.  It is about knowing information, but also about applying it – I’d suggest that it has cognitive perspective.  However, it is not all transmission/x-MOOC – there is an active forum offering peer support.


DS106 grew out of a taught course and has developed near cult status. It remains experimental, it is not constrained by an off the shelf platform, or rush for market share. Its main aim appears to be to help students develop and build an on-line identity.

Udacity’s small course portfolio run on the same platform and are structured similarly.  In comparison with DS106 this private education organisation has a much broader mission:

… to bring accessible, affordable, engaging and highly effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and careers.  Udacity FAQ

Udacity has developed partnerships and has started to offer a for-credit path on some of its courses.  These require fees to cover proctoring and support services.

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3 Responses to Activity 14 – a mooch around two MOOCs

  1. elockett says:

    Nice and clear. I like the Udacity classes, I like the strucutre and I like the clear building on skills that happens. Am I geting old that I dont’ like the “chaos” of DS106 as much as I probably would have when I was in college? I admire its enthusiasm but dislike the inefficiency.

  2. Deirdre Robson says:

    I like your analysis of DS6. Like you I admired DS6’s enthusuasm, but it made me anxious. I could see just too many times I might fail just on technical grounds. Perhaps I (we) are digital immigrants, but DS6 is by and for ‘digital natives’?

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